My immediate answer is no. No, it is impossible to read too much.
But then I come across problems. For example, I recently read the Mistborn trilogy (I feel like all I’ve ever been blogging about the last few weeks is MISTBORN) and I thought it was fantastic. There’s a young woman who is extremely talented, on the brink of death because of unfortunate circumstances, and then someone comes along and saves her. She then gets launched into epic adventure, trying to overthrow a tyrannical ruler. She learns to trust, falls in love, and finds her place.
But between reading The Final Empire and The Well of Ascension, I read Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass. I had heard nothing but good things about the series so I thought I’d give the first book a shot.
But as I read about Calaena, all I could think about is that her story is a lot like Vin’s…except with a lot more romantic drama. And, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not too fond of romantic drama.
Calaena is an incredibly talented assassin, on the brink of death at the mines, but saved by Dorian who thinks he can use her to defy his father, a tyrannical king. Next thing she knows, she’s caught up in some fantasy adventure with evil forces, forcing her to trust people she thought she couldn’t, and guys falling in love with her left and right.
To which I could only think: Haven’t I seen this before?
We simply call these similarities “tropes” nowadays, but I think it’s unfair to simply cast this similarities aside as such. These are plot lines. Ones that I usually love. But when plots are so similar, it’s impossible to not compare them.
And that’s no fault of the authors. We need more strong female protagonists in fantasy. Actually, one thing that Throne Glass does better than Mistborn is that it contains scenes that pass the Bechdel test. While I acknowledge that Vin is awesome, for a long time she is the only awesome girl in the series (i.e. the whole first book).
But the problem arises when I start to have a “seen it once, seen them all” mentality towards books. As I read Throne of Glass, I kept thinking, That’s like when Vin….except not as awesome because…. When I read Ernest Cline’s Armada, I kept thinking, Ender’s Game. Never mind trying to read Battle Royale after reading The Hunger Games.
So I’ve tried to be more open of books, especially when it feels like deja vu. Quite often—almost too often—I have to power through the first novel in series or the first hundred pages of a book in order to get past the familiar set up and move on to the awesome take that the author has used that makes the book/series so awesome.
But it sucks that I have to wait that long.
Am I just being intolerant? Maybe I am. Maybe I’ve just been reading too much of the same kind of book. Maybe only a few kinds of stories are interesting to us.
But enough rambling from me. Let me know what you think in the comments. Include two books you just can’t help but compare!